Medical News Report: May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, and the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) urges all women to learn about good bone health and osteoporosis prevention. A simple test for bone mineral density (BMD) can reveal much about a woman’s risk for weak bones and possible bone fractures.
Should a bone density test be in your near future? The National Osteoporosis Foundation has recommendations for both women and men.
Osteoporosis is called the “silent disease” because usually there are no symptoms until a serious bone fracture occurs — most often in the spine, hip or forearm. Fortunately, early diagnosis can make a difference and is possible with a BMD test.
There are various types of bone density tests. All are very quick, painless and simple — similar to getting a dental or chest X-ray. Preliminary screening tests of the foot, finger, wrist or forearm are available at many pharmacies or in doctors’ offices. The NOF recommends a much more sensitive X-ray of the hip and spine called a “DXA” test (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) to accurately diagnose osteoporosis.
Women at higher risk for osteoporosis include those who are older, small-boned and thin, have diets low in calcium and vitamin D, or who smoke or drink alcohol frequently. Having rheumatoid arthritis or anorexia nervosa can also influence bone loss.
Most women are at risk for osteoporosis, but BMD tests are currently recommended for:
• Women older than age 50 who have broken a bone
• Women going through menopause who also have risk factors
• Women age 65 or older
• Women who have stopped taking estrogen or hormone replacement therapy
• Men age 50 to 70 who have risk factors, or all men over age 70
• Individuals using certain types of steroid, anti-seizure or cancer medications
National Osteoporosis Foundation: “BMD Testing, What the Numbers Mean,”
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